THE ART OF WAR (AND PEACE): Curator Magda Gonzalez-Mora at Fort York Toronto for Nuit Blanche 2014

Past history and present tense invoked with installations at Fort York, Toronto. 

Today we know of Fort York as the (barely visible) small patch of green space that buffers the expansive condo development that now grinds against the north and south sides of the Gardiner and barricades us from a view of the sky.

In 1793 the plan for a garrison was put into place by John Graves Simcoe. At the time, Niagara was the capital of the province but Simcoe felt that Toronto was a more suitable place for a naval base that would protect the area from the possibility of an American attack. Soon after, it was decided to move the base again – to Kingston – but a community had already developed around the area and by 1800 there was a residence built for the lieutenant-governor on the site.

In the spring of 1813 the Fort was attacked by the Americans. Both the Indigenous nations of the Mississaugas and the Ojibwa assisted Canadian and British forces to keep the Americans at bay but in the years the followed Fort York was continually attacked and occupied by American Forces. Eventually, due to the victory of the British in the War of 1812, Fort York became a more stabilized community that grew to become the settlement that was renamed Toronto in 1934, from the Kanienke’haka (Mohawk) word Tkaronto meaning “the place in the water where trees are standing.”

Two centuries of peace have passed but the site still remains to commemorate the battles and lives lost.

It has also become a great place to showcase dramatic and large scale art and performance.

Luminato does Fort York.

In 2012, as part of the commemoration of the 200 years since the war of 1812, Luminato staged a massive art install at the Fort called “The Encampment.”

Marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812, The Encampment is both a luminous large-scale art installation and a kind of metaphoric archaeological dig—one that unearths not physical artefacts but long-buried shards and strands of human experience. Conceived as a “temporal village,” the installation comprises 200 A-frame tents pitched on the grounds of Fort York, which fell to U.S. forces during the war. Each tent contains an installation by one of 200 artistic collaborators, selected via an open call for contributors. Each creates a visual representation of an aspect of the war’s civilian history, gleaned from research into real-life stories of family, love, loss, survival, patriotism, collaboration and betrayal. Visible at a distance from several downtown locations, the massive assemblage of tents presents a wondrously glowing sculptural landscape. Explored at close quarters and through social activations, it offers poignant insights into the lives of ordinary people swept up in the epic drama of history.” More info…

Kaha:wi Dance Theatre participates in remembering and honouring the lost lives.

In 2013 The City of Toronto commissioned Kaha:wi Dance Theatre to create a site-specific performance for Fort York that would also travel to Woodland Cultural Centre and Old Fort Erie.

The Honouring pays homage to First Nations warriors of the War of 1812, featuring Onkwehonwe families who sacrificed to protect Haudenosaunee sovereignty, culture and land.” More info..

Now in 2014, Nuit Blanche has put curator Magda Gonzalez-Mora (Before the Day Break Zone) in charge of creating a (safe) space that reflects on socio-politics, security, pluralism, and of course war.

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BODY OF WAR, 2010 by Isabel Rocamora (Edinburgh, UK)
Video Installation

“Body of War reflects on how man becomes a soldier through the relentless repetition of acts of violence. What happens to the psyche as it learns to transgress social principles and integrates the willingness to kill? Set in the geography of the Normandy Landings and punctuated by testimonies of retired and serving soldiers, a mis-en-scene of visceral hand-to-hand combat is gradually deconstructed. The viewer is invited to engage in the relationship between human intimacy and the brutality of war choreography.  

Body of War is as much an ode to the human inside the solider as a question of military structures.” More info…

Image from www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca.

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CHIC POINT by Sharif Waked (Nazareth, Palestine / Israel)
Video Installation

Chic Point ponders, imagines, and interrogates “fashion for Israeli Checkpoints.”

Male models expose body parts – lower backs, chests, abdomens – peek through holes, materials and standard clothes are transformed into pieces that follow normative fashion standards while calling them into question. Chic Point bares the loaded politics of the gaze as it documents the thousands of moments in which Palestinians are forced to undress in the face of interrogation, as they attempt to move through the intricate and constantly expanding network of Israeli checkpoints.” More info…

Image from www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca.

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ASCENDANT LINE, 2009 by Wilfredo Prieto (Havana, Cuba)
Installation

“The work is an attempt to explore world orders that defy geo-political definition. A red carpet-flag allows the audience to experience the glamour of walking down the catwalk, while unexpectedly being confronted with different political ideas regarding the fall of a totalitarian system.” More info…

Image from www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca.

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MELTING POINT, 2014 by LeuWebb Projects (Toronto), Jeff Lee (Toronto), & Omar Khan (Toronto)
Light Installation

“Located on the original shore of Lake Ontario, Fort York was built for defense. Over time, the Fort has stood its ground against enemy advances, expressways and condos as the lake’s edge has pushed further away. Situated in this context of protection and resistance is Melting Point, a sound and light based installation. Melting Point stocks a pair of cannons with an artillery of glowing good feelings, in the form of sparkling tributaries of light pouring from the mouths of the old weapons. Accompanied by a chorus of rolling waves and trilling harps, the work lays a defense agsinst the swirling market forces beyond, countering hard with soft and dark with light and creating a safe space for Art.” More info…

Image from www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca.

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Also on the Fort York site for the Before the Day Break zone is work by one of my favourite Toronto artists, Bruno Billio, whose piece Familia (seen above) was definitely my top choice for my Nuit Blanche 2013 experience.

FAMILIA 2013 

“Mismatched chairs are gathered from households for re-creation of the moment of a family function. Initiated by the audience, the movement of these objects creates the sounds of a family shuffling their chairs into position at the table.

The mirrored floor captures the physical reflections of the audience and the chairs, imbued with personal nostalgia, thus becoming the medium that retains and reflects private experience and memory.” More info…

BRIGHT BUNDLE 2014

“Bright Bundle is a light sculpture ablaze with pulsating light and sound representing the past and present of growth, prosperity, culture and the future. Set in the centre of Fort York, this 1000 metre ribbon of LED lights will glow and pulsate in a golden-white colour seen from a distance and beckon audiences from surrounding pathways towards it to bath in the glow of  its pulsating  lights and sound.” More info…

Wishing everyone a safe (and dry) night!

NOTE: Ascendant Line & Melting Point will continue to be on display until October 13.

Before Day Break contemplates a sensitive artistic practice. Evoking the complexity of life itself, artists from diverse regions will offer singular perspectives in an attempt to cover different angles of reality. Through these practices they enable the audience to turn the ordinary into extraordinary artistic memory. Like the pixels in a photograph, human relationships, religion, socio-political and cultural behaviour are among the themes used to present a deeper message that speaks to the universality of the human experience. Motivated to challenge and surprise the viewer’s expectations, this vibrant environment will invite reflection on contemporary history, while juxtaposing it to Canada’s quest for inclusion and plurality. All of this leads to satisfaction of the eye and the intellect.Before Day Break defends and trusts the restorative power of art.” More info…

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 All images above by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag unless otherwise noted. 

FREE & EASY: Luminato Concert Series at David Pecaut Square Toronto

Woman playing guitar and singing on stage

K-os & Serena Ryder – snapping some great Canadian musicians. Home-grown talent at its best!

MIXED BAG MAG is pleased to showcase our talented guest photographer Ardean Peter’s coverage of some this year’s performances at the Luminato Hub. Out under the open air and starry skies (Luminato seems to have the Gods & Goddesses of weather on their side) each year you can enjoy music from all over – the most popular Italian rapper to the most acclaimed Sufi singers from Azerbaijan…it’s a definite trip. And best feature? It’s FREE so hit the Hub from 8 pm to 11 pm each night until this Sunday for some unique beats.

Man singing into microphone on stage

What Ardean has to say about Luminato:

“It is a treat to be able to see such talented and successful Canadian artists – and in a free venue! This past weekend I loved getting a chance to madly sing along to my favorite K-os songs and re-acquaint myself with Serena Ryder – a spectacular and genuine performer.

A bonus though was experiencing these artists amongst a diverse group of spectators – from age to ethnic background. Everyone was there to enjoy great live music and during the course of the night, I even connected with a new friend. Saturday night I found myself back at ‘The Hub’ for the Maxi Priest concert where I busted a move or two to the pop-reggae tunes.

I’m looking forward to attending a few more  performances at David Pecaut Square before the festival closes this Sunday but next year I plan to add even more of Luminato’s events to my schedule so I can experience and enjoy everything that Luminato has to offer!”

More of Ardeans beautiful work can be found at www.mynameisardean.com.
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Man singing into microphone on stage along with breakdancers and other man playing guitar
Man singing on stage with audience looking on
Woman playing guitar and singing on stage with her band in the background
Woman playing guitar and singing on stage with man walking behind her
Woman singing on stage
Woman playing guitar and singing on stage
K-os & Serena Ryder performing for Luminato 2013. All images by Ardean Peters.

Coming up this week at the Luminato Festival Hub:

WEDNESDAY: Patricia Cano (8 pm) & Danse Lhasa Danse (9 pm)

THURSDAY: L’Hsao (8 pm) & Patrick Watson (9 pm)

FRIDAY: Toronto Symphony Orchestra

SATURDAY:Kevin Breit (8 pm) & Roseanne Cash (9 pm)

SUNDAY: Garifuna Collective (2 pm) & Danny Michel (3 pm)

Can’t make it to the out? Each performance will be livestreamed on each artists’ event page.

Crowd lying on ground with bolsters behind their heads and headphones on listening to performer.
Large screen on stage with hands of DJ spinning records and performing
Crowd enjoying the Kid Koala performance at Luminato 2013. All images by Ardean Peters.

 

 

LUMINATO ART SPACES: What’s On This Week

Torso of woman in white address with X painted on the front in dripping paint. Another woman in white outfit in the back with paint strokes on her outfit.

LUMINATO –  great art installations that engage the public making the audience part of the art.

This collection of images is from last year’s Luminato exhibit Soon is Now with Canadian artist Corno.

Corno transformed Airship37 in Toronto’s Distillery District with an intense shock of colour that felt like a crayon box had exploded. Fun, random, spontaneous and indicative of the unexpected you can always expect to find with Luminato.

Model in high heels and dress with X painted on the front. Artist behind her painting the back of her dress.


MIXED BAG MAG recommends checking out:


Image from Luminato.

MAI – Prototype
21st Century Startist Marina Abramović has landed in our city.

“MAI will be the largest expression of what the artist calls the Marina Abramovic Method. Across a series of interlocking pavilions, audience members are guided through exercises and experiences based on Abramovic’s past work. Rather than creating the performance, Abramovic empowers the audience to craft their own experience, as participants don white lab coats and headphones, and disconnect from the outside world for approximately two hours.”  More here on Luminato’s website…

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Image from Luminato.

STOCKPILE
Ok. This sounds like fun!

“An interactive performance spectacle in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. Come one, come all to a life-sized arcade-style claw machine filled with useful objects donated by the community along with special surprises. As the artists themselves become the claw, see if you can manipulate them into delivering the prize you desire while contemplating this carnivalesque exchange of value and examining what winning and losing means to the collective.”  More here on Luminato’s website…

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Image from Luminato.

One Thousand Speculations
& this just sounds crazy!

“The largest mirror ball in the world will make Toronto dazzle and spin in its thousands of reflections for the duration of the Luminato Festival. I don’t think that any Torontonian will have seen David Pecaut Square in this kind of light. It will be sexy, seductive, exhilarating and will amaze anyone from 4 to 104 years old.”  More here on Luminato’s website…

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FOLLOW LUMINATO ON  – Facebook | Twitter | Youtube | Google+Pinterest | Instagram and www.luminatofestival.com!

Female artist painting model in suit and large wig. Crowd watchs.
Female artist uses hair dryer to blow on the back of model's back where she has painted what looks like a peace sign.
Woman painting a large canvas with broad brush strokes. DJ spinning records in the background.
Model in suit, high heels and wig made like a hat smiles down at an old man looking up at her smiling.
Images of Luminato 2012 Corno’s Soon is Now by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

THE QUINTESSENTIAL 21st CENTURY ARTS FESTIVAL: Luminato

Kids being interviewed at K'Naan.
Young fans talking to the CBC about why they love K’NAAN and performing an impromptu version of K’NAAN’s “Waving Flag”.

Just over a year ago I gave myself an assignment to start the ball rolling on what was ultimately going to be my bigger project – MIXED BAG MAG. On my blog, The L. Project, I began to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrated my knack at uncovering and then curating a theme, a stream, an undercurrent. I went out into Toronto to find other people that spoke a new 21st Century language – intercultural, interdisciplinary, socially innovative – people that with their creativity were into sparking a flame that could lead to BIG change.

And since I went out to explore what made Toronto such a fantastic model for a 21st Century city it only made sense to begin my journey of discovery by covering what I believe to be the quintessential model of a 21st Century arts festival – LUMINATO.

LUMINATO is the ultimate mixed bag!

  • It celebrates all the artistic disciplines, this year even including the Culinary Arts.
  • Not just cross-disciplinary, LUMINATO also makes cross-cultural dialogue the cornerstone upon which it has built an interesting series of hybrid commissions including last year’s 1001 Nights which brought together the talent of British director Tim Supple and Lebanese writer Hanan Al-Shaykh.
  • As well, LUMINATO has a mandate to go out into the community to create successful education & outreach projects that are socially innovative.

For LUMINATO 2011 I cleared out my account and bought all the tickets I could afford. Along with my bank account I cleared my calendar and for the next 10 days immersed myself into all that I love –dance, music, film, literature, visual arts, design and more! Extraordinary was already in season for me in 2011 and with 35+ events attended in all, LUMINATO was undoubtedly the highlight of my year!

At Luminato 2012, I spent most of my nights taking advantage of the free concerts at the Luminato Hub (David Pecaut Square) in an effort to scout out what acts may be a fit for MIXED BAG MAG. The music I experienced criss-crossed the globe from Mali (Fatoumata Diawara) to the Balkans (Shantel & The Bucovina Club Orkestar & our local Lemon Bucket Orkestra), and included Canada’s own K’NAAN, a Somali born performer who mixes hip-hop with traditional Somali musical elements and poetry.

K'naan performing with Nelly Furtado

The crowd at K'Naan.

Each night as I witnessed the diverse crowds that would show up I noticed something. Along with people that were unfamiliar but open to the music that was being performed, others were intimately acquainted with what was being sung. Behind me, beside me and in front of me were people belting out lyrics in a language that was their original mother tongue. In the location of their new home, people were able to joyously sing, at the top of their lungs, the songs from the home they left. You could sense the cathartic release!

How powerful can this be for us as a community if we choose to collectively celebrate the sum of all our ethnically diverse parts?

A beautiful week of beautiful music only confirmed what I already believe – that events like LUMINATO offer more to us than just entertainment. At a societal level these types of events can offer healing.

This is why I began this project and my journey of curating at MIXED BAG MAG the best of what I call New Culture because what is closest to my heart is the transformative power of culture. Ultimately it is the energizing spark that can ignite our souls.

Post by Leah Snyder.

Michael Franti & Spearhead performing at Luminato 2012.
Montreal's Nomadic Massive performing at Luminato 2012.
Fatoumata Diawara performing at Luminato 2012.
Afrocubism performing at Luminato 2012.
Afrocubism performing at Luminato 2012.
Afrocubism performing at Luminato 2012.
Michael Franti & Spearhead performing at Luminato 2012 with Jovanotti
Michael Franti & Spearhead performing at Luminato 2012.
Telmary Diaz performing at Luminato 2012.
Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar performing at Luminato 2012.
Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar performing at Luminato 2012.
Shantel and the Bucovina Club Orkestar performing at Luminato 2012.
Lemon Bucket   Orkestra performing on the street after Luminato 2012.
Lemon Bucket   Orkestra performing on the street after Luminato 2012.
Performers from top to bottom – K’NAAN and Nelly Furtado, Michael Franti, Nomadic Massive, Fatoumata Diawara, Afrocubism, Michael Franti and Jovanotti, Telmary Diaz, Shantel & the Bucovina Club Orkestar, and Lemon Bucket Orkestra. All photography by Leah Snyder.
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